Review - Midsummer Night's Dream - The Globe Theatre, London


Midsummer Night's Dream - The Globe Theatre, London

On a beautiful sunny evening in May, what better way can there be to spend the evening than at the Globe Theatre watching Shakespeare’s magical story of Midsummer Night’s Dream?

Nowadays, many productions breathe fresh life into Shakespeare’s plays, but sometimes to the extent that they almost become unrecognisable. Director Ellie White’s adaptation is one of the most traditional versions of Midsummer Night’s Dream I have seen for some time, but incredibly she has also created one of the most original interpretations I have seen as well.

In terms of the story itself, as always, we felt for the predicament the lovers found themselves in, we were enchanted by the fairy world and we laughed at the comedy of Bottom, played by Mariah Gale, and the other ‘Mechanicals’. But, what I particularly liked about this version was, whilst the comedy, magic and whimsical nature of the play was still there, it also introduced us to a darker side to the story. Through the way the actors interpreted the language through their words, movements and body language, I both recognised what was happening but also found myself wondering how I had never seen that side of the play before.

Outstanding performances of the evening were Jack Laskey as Oberon, and the Globe’s Artistic Director, Michelle Terry as Puck. Laskey was authoritative on stage both making his presence felt, but also managing  to bring Oberon’s humorous side out. When he and Puck were together on stage I didn’t want their scenes to end.  

Meanwhile, from the moment Puck appeared on stage it was a mesmerising performance, introducing us to a darker more twisted Puck, whilst still maintaining the mischievous side of the character. As well as captivating the audience every time she spoke, Terry showed her experience as an actor by being able to ad lib to events happening around her (such as a plane overhead) with such ease that you could be mistaken for thinking it was part of the play! Special mention to the Costume Designer, takis, and Head of Wigs, Hair and Make-Up, Pam Humpage, for creating Puck’s look. Again, this was very different to what I have seen before, with a headdress akin to a tree, an expressionless mask and clothing which gave the character a strange feel, fitting for this interpretation.

Unfortunately, because of the strength of these characters and their partnership, many of the other actors felt a little overshadowed. However, special mention should go to Sam Crerar (Lysander), Vinne Heaven (Demitrius), Isobel Thom (Helena) and Francesca Mills (Hermia) as the young lovers. They had clearly worked hard on their characterisation, and I found myself really feeling for the predicament they found themselves in. Thom and Mills, in particular, were excellent as Hermia and Helene with a balanced amount of passion, humour and sorrow.

As with most Globe productions, there were also the musicians up in the Gallery but, rather than the usual traditional instruments, we had Saxophones, Clarinets, Percussion, Tuba, Trumpet and a unique Hang Drum thanks to Sophie Creaner, Zac Gvi, Hanna Mbuya, Zands Duggan and Adrian Woodward. The instruments selected were clearly carefully thought out as the sounds they created were both able to give us a sense of frivolity in some parts but also a feeling of unease in others.

This production begins a summer season marking the 400th anniversary of the publication of Shakespeare’s ‘First Folio’. Without this, many of Shakespeare’s works would have been lost forever which to me is unimaginable and a good excuse to celebrate the playwright. So, whether you’ve never seen a Shakespeare play or visited the Globe, or you are a seasoned lover of one or both, this is an adaptation of Midsummer Night’s Dream you need to go and see.

This show was reviewed on the 25th May 2023.  Midsummer Night's Dream runs at The Globe Theatre until the 12th August 2023.  Tickets here: A Midsummer Night's Dream | Summer 2023 | What’s On | Shakespeare's Globe (shakespearesglobe.com)

***** stars

Kat Fuller

Join Kat every Tuesday at 9am for 'The Best of Stage and Screen' here on Box Office Radio

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Photo credit: Helen Murray